No this is not a new feature of the latest iPhone, or is it? It’s obvious that technology has advanced so much that the world is at our fingertips. However, are you leveraging the power of technology in your funeral home to grow your firm and enhance your brand? From a smartphone you have the capability to do any of the following:

• Place an interested family into your sales funnel
• Process payments
• Get family reviews and referrals
• Provide content, tips and resources to your families
• Identify trends and growth opportunities
• View the health of your business
• That’s just the start…

With SaaS (Software as a Service), mobile apps and cloud-based services, these benefits are at your disposal solely designed to make your life easier and ultimately make you more money. It used to be that as small businesses we couldn’t take vacations because of the potential business we’d lose. Or if we did, since we all need a break, we’d have to scramble when we got back to recoup what we lost. Your business is supposed to give you the freedom and capital to do the things you want in life. It’s one of the reasons we chose not to work for the man in the first place. Modern technology ensures it happens. I can be anywhere in the world and send clients requested information, process sales, monitor my production workflow, and mitigate issues. What’s the saying? Work smarter not harder! Leveraging technology in your funeral home will give you freedom you never imagined.

The various apps, programs and services out there can have you traveling so deep down the rabbit hole you’ll never come up for air. This article isn’t designed to recommend specific services or platforms over the other but merely discuss the types that exist, how it will benefit your firm and enhance your brand. In short, most business technology falls into one or more categories: cloud-based services, mobile app development, work-flow systems, consumer relationship marketing (CRM) and managed services. Your goal should be to examine the various systems you have in place running your firm and determine if any would benefit from the services below.

Cloud-Based Services
These are mobile apps and/or programs that are run through the Internet. The greatest feature is the incredible freedom and flexibility it gives you. You can literally be anywhere in the world and still run your business. In fact many do, which is why you read about so many relocating to another country and not having to start from scratch. Here at Cherished Keepsakes we have a few that we use. The biggest miracle for us came at a time I was away. We were under deadline and I needed a file. Well I didn’t bring my portable hard drive like I normally do and didn’t have access to the file to make the needed changes to send to our production team. Then I remembered all our files are backed up on the cloud. I simply logged in, located the file and downloaded it. Then I made the changes, sent it to my team and went back to enjoying my vacation with my family. Best $50 I ever spent.

Mobile App Development
This is where your brand can stand out and shine. It’s why they say, “there’s an app for that.” Anything a person wants, needs or is interested in is quite literally available in the app store. One night after my daughter was born she was not going to sleep, it was my shift and I wanted to keep her quiet, so my wife could sleep. If I’d try singing her to sleep then we would’ve had a national catastrophe, but thank goodness there was an app for that. I downloaded a lullaby app played it and off to nighty night land she went. Best part of all—it was free. The developer made money from ad space it sold. So many major retailers are developing apps allowing them to control their brand experience and make it easier for consumers to do business with them. Ask yourself, is there a way I can enhance the brand of my funeral home with an app? Be warned, the app must have a direct benefit to the end user, one that gives them reason to keep it on their smartphone and not delete it shortly after using it.

Work Flow Systems
These are just as they describe a system to simplify your workflow making it easier to communicate with various team members. They often have apps as well giving you more freedom to manage your teams quicker and from different parts of the world. At Cherished Keepsakes we’ve played around with several. The one that works well for us now is Asana. From it I can order status updates, provide resources to help our team with business development and collaborate with other clients and team members out of state. Costs for these vary by the features you need and the size of your team.

Consumer Relationship Marketing (CRM)
CRMs are life-savers and virtual ATMs. They automate your sales, brand your funeral home and basically allow you to money in your sleep. In previous articles I’ve discussed the importance of branding the experience families have doing business with you. This is one way to do it. For example, once you have a family members’ email address you can add them to your CRM and they will automatically receive a series of tips, articles or services designed to help them grieve and move on. Through the CRM you can program when they receive it and how often, so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Another feature CRM has is that you can automatically ask for referrals and mitigate bad reviews before the hit the web. With a CRM you can cross sell other services and products as well as get vital data about the effectiveness of your CRM allowing you to make adjustments and keep sales going up.

Managed Services
This is probably the one service every single funeral home in the country has. If a family calls at midnight we know you’re not gonna stop snoring to answer the call. That call is routed to a call center designed to gather the information you need and relay to you the way you want to receive it. From there you can open one weary eye, look at your text or notification and decide if you want to wake up and call them back or call them in the morning and get your beauty sleep. Managed services essentially are outsourcing a task that you’d do in-house to someone else, typically because it costs less to pay them to do it than for you or your team to do it. You’d also want to have a managed service if you have tasks or services you must provide but are too complicated or tedious to handle in-house. Why have someone on your team do something that’s not their expertise when you can outsource it and have your staff doing something else that will grow your firm.

Technology is designed to make doing business easier and automated. Researched well and used properly will provide you the freedom to do other things in life, enhance your brand and ultimately make money for you. So next time we talk, and I ask, “Does your iPhone make money?” You’ll say, “Yes”. FBA

George Paul III is the Principal and Founder of Cherished Keepsakes, an award-winning provider of memorial keepsakes such as prayer cards, memorial programs, photo collages and more. Their innovative designs have been sought after by families and funeral homes across the country. Cherished Keepsakes is the in-house brand of GP3 Creative, a branding and strategy firm. George has a Bachelor’s degree in Design from Northeastern University. With over 15 years of experience in branding, strategy, marketing and design George has helped companies reach their business goals by providing them a strong brand image and strategic growth plan. To contact George, email [email protected] or phone 617-971-8590.